The US has opened the way for Turkey's cross-border operation in northern Syria, which is aimed at clearing the region from the YPG presence and overseeing Daesh prisoners.

As Turkey is about to launch its third military operation into northeastern Syria, a partisan debate about the future of Daesh prisoners and the remnants of the terrorist group has started in some sections of the international media. 

Many European countries continue to refuse to accept their citizens, who have a history of participating in Daesh's terror campaign. Turkey, as the second-largest military force in NATO, has assured the world that it's well-prepared to deal with any untoward situation in northern Syria, while its main focus will be to weed out YPG members from the region. 

“We will never let them [Daesh members] go anywhere either to Turkey or Europe or any other Arab country,” said Ibrahim Kalin, the Turkish presidential spokesman, during an interview with CNN. 

In response to the number of Daesh fighters and their families under the YPG detention, Kalin said: "The numbers have to be identified properly." 

Kalin also said that to deal with the possible resurgence of Daesh, Turkey is not alone.

"This is not only our responsibility. This is the responsibility of the international community. We will continue to coordinate with the US, with the international coalition, with European countries, Arab countries, and others, obviously. In fact, we fought against Daesh and eliminated them when they were at the peak of their power."

The Turkish government's longstanding concern for the safety of US forces in its planned ground offensive was over after Sunday's phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump, in which the duo reached a final settlement on the negotiated safe zone in the region, which included the withdrawal of American forces. 


Last December, after a lengthy discussion on northern Syria, Trump announced an unexpected pull-out, triggering fierce opposition from the US Central Command and both chambers of the US Congress. Trump’s recent decision also drew criticism from various quarters of the American establishment. 

After the Erdogan-Trump phone call, Turkey was reportedly given the responsibility of dealing with captured Daesh fighters in northern Syria. There are more than 10,000 Daesh members in Syria. Along with their family members, the total is at least 80,000 people according to media sources.  

Captured Daesh members were seen on the outskirts of Baghouz in northern Syria on March 6, 2019.
Captured Daesh members were seen on the outskirts of Baghouz in northern Syria on March 6, 2019. (Reuters)

Ankara has always displayed a readiness to fight Daesh. It cleared a crucial part of northwestern Syria from Daesh in its Euphrates Shield Operation in 2016.  

Yet Washington picked the YPG as an ally, ignoring the fact that the YPG is linked to the PKK, a terrorist organisation according to the US, Turkey and the EU.

For Ankara, dealing with the YPG is as important as dealing with Daesh. The YPG is the Syrian wing of the PKK, which has staged a three-decades terror campaign against Ankara, leading to tens of thousands of casualties across Turkey. 

With the end of the American footprint in northern Syria, Trump has signalled complete isolation from the war-torn country. 

"Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS [Daesh] fighters in their 'neighborhood.'" Trump wrote on Twitter. 

For Ankara, the formation of a safe zone in northern Syria is meant to address its border security concerns and also facilitate the return of Syrian refugees living in Turkey. 

Turkey has hosted more than 3.6 million refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011. The country’s counter terrorism units have also developed extensive knowledge about dealing with various armed groups ranging from the PKK, a Marxist-Leninist organisation, to Daesh, an violent group of extremists who claim to follow Salafism. 

Source: TRT World